Tillie Olsen: There Are Many Things I Do Not Know

There are many things I do not know. I realize this. I know a lot of things, but there are so many things to know that I cannot possibly know all of them. There will be gaps in my knowledge, sometimes frequently, no matter how diligently I try to plug them, and sometimes they are surprising.

For example: Tillie Olsen. I read a lot, but I read where my impulse takes me. I’ve loved Tillie Olsen’s writing for a very long time, but I never looked much into her biography beyond knowing that she lived a hard life and was not able to write as much as she should have been able to. I just never looked into things beyond that.

I did not know that she grew up in Omaha (though she was born in Wahoo), the same town that I grew up in. I did not know that she attended Omaha High School (until forced to drop out and work at the age of 15). That alone didn’t interest me that much until I found out that Omaha High School was the old name of Central High School, the high school I went to. Imagine my surprise.

After all, here is a writer I’ve adored for years…and I didn’t even know that we attended the same school (at much different times). How could I have known? How could I have suspected? Sure, I would have found this out if I had done the slightest digging into her biography…but what would have made me think to do that? I rarely get into a writer’s bio, usually paying much more attention to the writing. I just happened to find out and am intrigued that I share any kind of connection.

Frankly, I can’t believe that Omaha or Central doesn’t talk about this more. This is a huge person to have a connection with. I can’t believe they didn’t brag it up more. They probably do, but not enough that I ever heard of it.

I don’t exactly feel too bad about not having known this. There are so many things to know, I could never know them all. Still, this pleases me to know this now.

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About David S. Atkinson

David S. Atkinson enjoys typing about himself in the third person, although he does not generally enjoy speaking in such a fashion. However, he is concerned about the Kierkegaard quote "Once you label me you negate me." He worries that if he attempts to define himself he will, in fact, nullify his existence...
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